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The television series, “The Chosen,” has been getting a lot of press, pro and con. Is it something Christians should watch?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #144 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

“The Chosen” is a multi-season television drama, presenting the life of Jesus Christ and his disciples, with imaginative character backstories and interpersonal conflicts. This is the third of three podcasts on “The Chosen.”

Now that we’ve considered how Bible teachings have been depicted in art, and we’ve reviewed some of the criticisms leveled at “The Chosen,” let’s take some time to simply think about the program as a viewing experience.

I. I liked the series, thought the presentation was outstanding, and was not bothered or offended by anything I saw.  

I’m not a theologian but nothing “heretical” jumped off the screen at me.

After watching “The Chosen,” I happened to come upon a series on BBC called “Jesus, Son of God,” a documentary featuring three episodes in which various academic experts comment on aspects of the biblical story, interspersed with dramatic presentations of the biblical account. I remember reacting to at least four different instances in which interpretations of Scripture were offered that I thought were off-the-wall, dismissive, or simply denying the truth as the Bible presents it. This does not happen in “The Chosen.”

In fact, the closest I came to thinking “The Chosen” was off base were a few joking references to Jesus’ father, as in a character saying, “Father, which one?”

Ha, Ha, we get it. But the “which one” joke is a modern twist that weakens the presentation of Jesus’ incarnational life.

You might find something with which you disagree, or you may not like how something is portrayed, but there are no attempts to deny Scripture, undermine it, or otherwise offer some non-Christian point of view.

II. “By far the biggest strength in this showis the relationship between the disciples, specifically the twelve whom Jesus had, well, chosen.” 

These are the backstories Scripture does not give us and thus they are intrinsically interesting, particularly when combined with excellent acting and movie making.

Some have felt these tangential stories detract from the main points of the narrative and of Scripture, but I do not think so. These backstories and plot enhancements add color and draw viewers into the overall storyline. The writers have done a good job using the symbolism of repairing a cistern, for example, as a means of illustrating key themes.

I enjoyed the portrayal of the disciples’ human frailties, attitudes, doubts, and bickering about practicalities like food, money, safety, absence of a plan, etc. – all entirely plausible to me.

III. I did not like the use of the term “occupation” in the film to refer to the Roman Empire’s control of the Holy Land.

While a case could be made for this, I guess, the term "occupation" is a modern concept and likely was not specifically used to describe the Roman Empire's control of the Holy Land during ancient times. 

The word "occupation" has been used in various contexts throughout history, but its modern usage to describe one country controlling another typically dates to the 19th century, particularly during the era of European colonialism. This usage became more prevalent during and after World War I and World War II, particularly in the context of military occupations and territorial control.

Whether this word was selected intentionally for political reasons or simply the word that came to the scriptwriter’s mind as he or she wrote, we do not know. It’s not a major faux pas; just something to think about.

IV. I also did not appreciate the repeated use of the term “lucky.” 

Several characters use this term; Jesus even wishes Matthew “good luck.” The problem is luck does not exist. In fact, the idea of luck and a Sovereign God are mutually exclusive concepts. I’d prefer that a production portraying biblical stories omit this pagan idea.

V. The production values of each episode are outstanding. 

In other words, the quality of the movie making is excellent, draws viewers in, makes it easy to imagine we are in the First Century Holy Land, and this includes period clothing, food, walking, houses, synagogues, and more.

A primary production pet peeve, though, for me is that so much of the filming takes place in the dark, nighttime or indoors with candles. I got tired of trying to see people walking around in shadows so dark it was hard to know who they were. I know this is partly a nod to period authenticity, i.e., they did not use electric lights, just candles, but there is still too much darkness for me.

VI. I have not seen criticism, which seems odd to me, regarding the Jesus character looking like Sallman’s 1940 portrait, “Head of Christ.”  

Sallman’s “Head of Christ” has been criticized as the “White Jesus” and labeled the first “Protestant Icon.” 

“Copies accompanied soldiers into battle during World War II, handed out by the Salvation Army and YMCA through the USO. Millions of cards produced in a project called “Christ in Every Purse” that was endorsed by then-President Dwight Eisenhower and…Norman Vincent Peale were distributed all around the world. The image appeared on pencils, bookmarks, lamps, and clocks and was hung in courtrooms, police stations, libraries, and schools. It became what scholar David Morgan has heard called a “photograph of Jesus.”

What Jesus looked like we do not know. We do know that in Jesus “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” Gal. 3:28.

We know that the Apostle John gave us a glimpse of heaven, saying, “there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9).

Ethnicity, race, skin color, nationality, culture are all gifts from God to enrich the human race. But none of these demographic characteristics define moral parameters or limitations or unique blessings.

VII. The fact that many of the staff, including actors, are not Christians is not a problem for me.

While it would be nice to think that they all are believers or become believers as a result of their work on “The Chosen” set, such is not likely.

This is something that confronts SAT-7, the ministry with which I serve that produces and broadcasts Christian programming 24/7 in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish throughout the 24 countries of the Middle East and North Africa. It is very difficult, sometimes impossible, to find sufficient Christian believers as they are called there, who a) have the skills as television professionals to appear on camera or do the work behind the camera, b) are willing to be seen on air in countries that often persecute Christians, c) are able to give the time and work for the compensation SAT-7 is able to provide, etc. So, SAT-7, based upon Christian doctrinal statements and led by Christian people, at times must hire non-Christians to work off camera.

It is a practical solution and one that from time-to-time results in the non-Christian coming to Christ because he or she has heard the gospel at work. At the very least, it frequently results in reducing misconceptions about Christians among the local community.


Whether you chose to watch “The Chosen,” I believe, is a matter of Christian liberty (Rom. 14). If you find the program enjoyable, then watch, but watch with an eye toward discernment (Phil. 1:9-11) and compare what you see with what you read in Scripture, which, by the way, is something we should always do listening to any sermon.

Remember this is art, crafted by human beings. If the producers ever violate their commitment to be faithful to the Word of God, and I hope they do not, then you will be ready to recognize it and respond accordingly. But for now, to watch or not watch is your blessed choice.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2024     

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